Indeed, it has raised an ethical critique of an act regarded as "dangerous" and "irresponsible"
A Chinese researcher said on Monday he had in vitro fertilization with modified genes that triggered AIDS-resistant twins, an announcement that triggered ethical criticism for an act regarded as "dangerous" and "irresponsible".
He Jiankui, a professor at the University of Shenzhen in southern China, published a YouTube video announcing the birth two weeks ago of two twins whose DNA was modified to be resistant to the AIDS virus. He specified that his father is HIV-positive.
A Stanford researcher trained in the United States and operating a specialized genome laboratory in Shenzhen, explained that he uses the "Crypt-Cas9" method called "genetic scissors" that allows the deletion and replacement of unwanted parts of the genome to correct a computer error.
The children, called "Lula" and "Nana," were born through in vitro fertilization of the modified embryo prior to implantation into the mother's uterus.
"Just after the sperm injection of the spouse into the egg, the embryologist, Crispre-Cas9, was responsible for modifying the gene to protect the girl from future HIV infection," Jiankui explained.
This self-reported medical event has not yet been independently verified. The results of the Chinese team have not been published in the scientific journal.
"Announcing these video results on YouTube is a very challenging scientific practice," said Nicholas Evans, professor of philosophy at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, in the United States, who is working on bioethics.
"This will remove the control processes on which many scientific advances, such as peer review, are based," AFP said.
Regardless of whether it is reported, the problem raises "serious ethical concerns," says Sarah Chan of the University of Edinburgh, cited by the Science Media Center.
"To make such claims, seemingly deliberately seeking the maximum of disputes (…) is irresponsible," he added.
He Jiankui did not immediately answer AFP questions.
His announcement comes on the eve of Hong Kong's world genome experts conference, during which the researcher must present his results in detail.